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Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook
A Practical Guide for Individual, Group or Classroom Study
By Lucy Leu
PuddleDancer PressCopyright © 2015 PuddleDancer Press
All rights reserved.
Using This Workbook
Purpose of This Workbook
This workbook is designed for use with Marshall B. Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. It is intended for:
1. Persons new to Nonviolent Communication who seek a comprehensive curriculum in order to learn and apply the basic principles of NVC, either on their own or in a group setting. NVC requires the development of new habits of thought and speech. However impressed we may be by NVC concepts, it is only through practice and application that our lives will be transformed. This curriculum supports the reader through fourteen weeks of learning and ongoing practice, either as an individual or in a group experience. It also offers the possibility of fourteen months of dedicated practice. The practice suggested for a week is practiced instead for a month. Those who use the workbook at this next level of commitment will enjoy an ever-deepening fluency and capacity for connection.
2. Persons wishing to engage in regular group practice. This manual offers:
guidance in starting a practice group
content and structure for fourteen sessions
suggestions for forming a "leaderful practice circle," and activities for ongoing groups
support in identifying and addressing challenges often encountered by NVC practice groups.
3. Persons whose own lives have been touched by NVC and who are drawn to pass on the gift. Group leaders and teachers may use this curriculum as a springboard from which to develop their own courses.
Suggestions for Use of This Workbook
There are fourteen assignments in this curriculum that correlate with the fourteen chapters of Marshall B. Rosenberg's book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which offers a comprehensive teaching of Nonviolent Communication basics. Consider completing a chapter each week: this provides regularity and gives enough time to absorb new material, but not so much time as to forget what was learned earlier.
1. First read a chapter of the book.
2. Go to the corresponding individual assignment in Part IV of this workbook. Each assignment consists of two parts:
"Reading Review" is a set of straightforward questions on the contents of the chapter that you may use to review or to recall what you have read. Most readers wait until they finish reading the chapter and use the questions as a way to test themselves and jog their memory on what they've learned. Others respond to the questions while they are reading so as to focus and to remember the contents better. You can experiment using (or not using) them in a way that best supports your learning.
"Individual Practice" consists of exercises and activities for applying what you have read. It may include self-observation, reflection, practice, and role-play. Most may be completed on the spot, but a few require time during the course of a week. When you finish an assignment, you may want to quickly check the following week's assignment for any activity that may require a series of days to complete.
3. If you are practicing with a group, you will be covering the exercises given in the Leader's Guide when you meet together. Before you begin, read Sections A-F in Part III (Practicing Together) about setting up a group, developing a structure, remembering our purpose, leading the circle, rules, and feedback. Read the other Sections (G-K) as the respective subjects arise during the course of your fourteen-week practice. These sections cover subjects that may arise and offer some ideas about how to stay connected to the spirit of the NVC process while resolving what may appear as conflicted needs within the group.
4. If you are practicing alone, look over the Leader's Guide and Sample Responses corresponding to the chapter and assignment you just completed. These exercises and activities are easily adapted for individual use and examples of what you might do are included. After completing the exercise, you might like to examine the Sample Responses that follow the Leader's Guide for each chapter.CHAPTER 2
In learning NVC, as with learning a foreign language, we first need to grasp the concepts — learn the grammar, so to speak — and then to practice on a regular basis. Fortunately, unlike foreign languages, NVC can be practiced anywhere and with anybody. We do not need an NVC partner to practice: we can practice when we cash a check at the bank, when another market researcher on the phone interrupts our dinner, when we listen to campaign speeches on TV, when the police officer stops us ... We can practice with our parents and children, co-workers and bosses, friends, lovers, strangers, enemies, and — most importantly — with ourselves.
The challenge for most of us living busy lives is to commit time and energy and then to follow through. This workbook provides contents to help you structure a fourteen-week course to initiate your practice of NVC. After completion of the readings and assignments, you will hopefully feel confident in your understanding of NVC concepts and be familiar enough with practice approaches to be able to develop and maintain an individualized program of practice.
When committing to a course of study or practice on your own, it is helpful to be clear about how you hope to benefit, the commitments you are willing to make, the amount of time you will invest, and the regularity of your practice. As an individual embarking on a fourteen-week study period, spending time clarifying your goals and committing to specific times of practice can help ensure success. Writing down your goals and commitments to practice and reviewing your progress regularly may, in some measure, replace the encouragement you would receive through group practice, where others are there to support you in keeping your commitments. Many individuals have successfully used this workbook to develop deeper understanding of NVC concepts and greater fluency in their application, resulting in an increased capacity to relate to themselves and others with empathy and honesty.
Part IV of the workbook has three components: Assignments, Leader's Guide, and Sample Responses.
Individual Assignments — these consist of a "Reading Review" exercise and an "Individual Practice" exercise. Each of these exercises may be used by an individual as well as for group learning.
Sample Response to Leader's Guide — although designed for group experience, these sections are easily adapted for individual use. Throughout these sections we have included notes accompanied by the symbol to help you as an individual work through * them on your own. Additionally, once you have read the instructions for each activity, pause to listen to the "internal dialogue" that follows.
In order to take maximum advantage of the exercises in this workbook, consider establishing and staying committed to a scheduled routine. Sometimes the best of intentions are sidetracked by a schedule so flexible that it is no schedule at all. You might also wish to:
Create a physical space dedicated to your practice of NVC. Select an area that affords whatever level of quiet and order you need to stay focused on the exercises you are committed to doing in your daily or weekly practice. You may want to find a place outdoors where you feel particularly peaceful and aware. Or, make a special place in a part of your living space where you keep items such as poems, pictures, or candles — anything that helps keep you in touch with that creative and passionate part of you that is motivated to do this work.
Carry a notebook or electronic device with you, etc., every day as you interact in your world. From time to time, take a moment to jot down a few words that act as mental bookmarks and serve to remind you of any thoughts or interactions you want to consider at a later time.CHAPTER 3
A — Creating a Practice Group
When joining or creating a group, it is helpful to be clear about what you hope to gain and what you are willing to give. While most NVC practice groups serve several purposes, one group might agree to focus on developing fluency in using the process while another might emphasize the sense of community inspired by the spirit of NVC. Likewise, one person may want to invest limited time and emotional energy, while another values the group as a major commitment in their life. Such differences can be reconciled and are less likely to lead to confusion and conflict if, individually and collectively, members can bring clarity and honest disclosure of needs in relation to their expectations.
The following are common motivations for joining a practice group:
To learn or review NVC concepts
To develop fluency in using the process
To gain support in one's practice and commitment by belonging to a like-minded community
To meet needs for empathy and connection
To develop friendships that are grounded in NVC
To be inspired and reminded of NVC purpose and consciousness
To serve life and contribute to the community by sharing NVC through teaching or leadership skills
One way for a single person to generate a practice group is to bring together some people to watch an NVC video such as Marshall Rosenberg's "Making Life Wonderful" (See Appendix 8. Further Resources). Tell the group what's behind your own interest in NVC and in starting a group. Introduce the book and workbook as resources for a group to teach themselves the skills demonstrated in the video.
There are as many ways to structure a practice group as there are those who wish to cultivate and practice NVC consciousness. Suggestions are given here and in the Leader's Guide to assist you in experimenting with structure. A willingness to deviate from "the way we have always done it in the past" may increase the likelihood of more fully meeting the individual and collective needs of your particular group. Remember that by embracing discussions and disagreements about structure you are each affirming your choice to practice the process. Some groups have used this process as a major source of learning while also recognizing that the further along a group is in staying connected to the principles of NVC and mastering NVC skills, the greater the group's capacity to co-create a mutually enjoyable outcome.
To match the curriculum of this workbook, consider forming a group of five to eight members to meet weekly for two-and-a-half hours over the course of at least fourteen weeks. You may want to organize a preliminary meeting for people to get to know one another and to agree on basic structure, procedures, and the materials (book and workbook) to be used. At this first meeting, it may be useful to review together Part I: Using This Workbook, and sections A-F of Part III: Practicing Together.
A recommended structure to accompany the use of this workbook is the "leaderful practice circle." The circle evokes inclusiveness, balanced participation, and community. Leadership may be rotated so that each member has an opportunity to contribute and to practice facilitating, teaching, and guiding the circle. All members are leaders in that they all take responsibility for the well-being of the circle. The tasks of defining and realizing the purpose, nature, and direction of the circle belong to everyone.
In communities where NVC trainers are available, leaderful circles can benefit by inviting trainers to lead specific parts of the meetings. In this way, members continue to "own" the circle and to rotate overall leadership while being called to practice the art of making clear requests to their guest mentors.
B — Remembering Our Purpose and Taking Time
By choosing community as our crucible for learning, we are opening ourselves not only to the beauty and power of human connections, but also to the pain of unmet needs triggered by our interactions with one another. To fully appreciate both the joys and the hurts, and to grow from them throughout your time with one another, try to:
1. Find ways to remember the purpose of being together.
For example, you might clearly demarcate the time and space you share by:
a. opening and closing each gathering consciously with a reading, candle, music, story, silence, bell, etc.
b. creating a "centerpiece" (with a picture, flower, poem, etc.) as a reminder of that place of infinite compassion in each of us, a place where there is no separation of "me" and "them."
You might also create frequent opportunities for the expression of appreciation (for yourself, life, others, one another, the group, etc.) and for celebration (of miracles and successes, big and small).
2. Take time.
We are changing the habits of a lifetime as we learn to speak from the heart. Are we able to welcome our own and one another's stuttering, stumbling, and silences as signs that we are replacing automatic pilot with conscious speech? When we ask ourselves questions like the following, our words may indeed take more time to form:
"What am I really reacting to here?"
"What is the intention behind my opening my mouth now?"
"What feelings are alive in me in this moment?"
"What is the need behind my immediate desire here?"
"Am I making a clear request of anyone?"
We might encourage a slower pace in our gatherings by, for example:
Including moments of silence as a time for people to connect to themselves.
Passing a talking stick (or other object) for some parts of the gathering. The person with the stick is offered the circle's gift of attentive silence without pressure to hurry. Generally, the stick is passed in one direction without interruption or comment from others. Individuals may choose to talk, or hold the stick in silence and pass it on without talking.
Repeating, paraphrasing, or translating into NVC what one person has said before the next person speaks. This can be especially helpful when more than one person in the group is experiencing emotional intensity. To practice, the group might allot a certain amount of time during a meeting to interact in this way. This can also serve as an effective way to train our ability to listen.
Taking two full breaths before speaking after the previous person has finished speaking.
3. What Might An Individual Do?
As part of your intentional practice, it is as important for you to Remember Your Purpose and Take Time as it is for a group to do the same. Practice taking your time when you are responding to your family, friends, and co-workers.
C — Leading the Practice Circle
Each member has an opportunity for service and self-expression when offering to the circle his or her own unique way of leading the session. Because leadership is rotated, individuals may feel freer to take risks and explore their varying leadership styles. One leader's tendency toward rigidity and another's toward levity can combine to offer the group balance and diversity over time.
Leaders serve the circle in four ways:
1. They uphold the purpose of the circle by creating a space, remembering to slow down, incorporating opportunities to express appreciation, etc.
2. They oversee the group's practical and logistical needs.
3. They plan the structure (schedule of activities, etc.) and guide the group through the process.
4. They put extra effort into familiarizing themselves with the week's curriculum (or the contents of any materials to be covered) so they can be a resource for those who haven't familiarized themselves with it as well as the leader has.
The number of ways in which leaders can work or play with these four areas is infinite. Seasoned leaders will hopefully draw fully from their experiences so the circle may benefit from their facility, insights, and past mistakes. For those new to leading and facilitating, the following "Suggestions and Sample Format for Leading a Circle" can serve as a guideline from which to explore and experiment. Rooted in a consciousness of needs, we might remind ourselves that there is no "right way" to lead a circle, and no wrong way. There is only: my way (today, last month), your way (last week, last year), needs met, needs unmet ...
Excerpted from Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu. Copyright © 2015 PuddleDancer Press. Excerpted by permission of PuddleDancer Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I Using This Workbook 1
Purpose of This Workbook 3
Suggestions for Use of This Workbook 4
Part II Practicing Alone 7
Part III Practicing Together 11
A Creating a Practice Group 13
B Remembering Our Purpose and Taking Time 15
C Leading the Practice Circle 17
D "What We Value in a Practice Group Leader" 22
E Making Rules 24
F Inviting Feedback 26
G Conflicts in the Group 27
H Embracing Conflict: Reminders 41
I Forms of Group Interaction 42
J Suggestions for Structuring an Empathy Session 45
K Suggestions for Structuring a Role-Play 49
Part IV Exercises: Assignments, Leader's Guide, and Sample Responses 51
1 Exercises for the Chapter: Giving From the Heart 55
One: Individual Assignments 55
One: Leader's Guide 59
One: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 62
2 Exercises for the Chapter: Communication That Blocks Compassion 63
Two: Individual Assignments 63
Two: Leader's Guide 65
Two: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 68
3 Exercises for the Chapter: Observing Without Evaluating 71
Three: Individual Assignments 71
Three: Leader's Guide 73
Three: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 76
4 Exercises for the Chapter: Identifying and Expressing Feelings 79
Four: Individual Assignments 79
Four: Leader's Guide 81
Four: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 84
5 Exercises for the Chapter: Taking Responsibility for Our Feelings 85
Five: Individual Assignments 85
Five: Leader's Guide 88
Five: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 92
6 Exercises for the Chapter: Requesting That Which Would Enrich Life 95
Six: Individual Assignments 95
Six: Leader's Guide 97
Six: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 100
7 Exercises for the Chapter: Receiving Empathically 103
Seven: Individual Assignments 103
Seven: Leader's Guide 107
Seven: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 109
8 Exercises for the Chapter: The Power of Empathy 111
Eight: Individual Assignments 111
Eight: Leader's Guide 116
Eight: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 119
9 Exercises for the Chapter: Connecting Compassionately With Ourselves 121
Nine: Individual Assignments 121
Nine: Leader's Guide 127
Nine: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 131
10 Exercises for the Chapter: Expressing Anger Fully 133
Ten: Individual Assignments 133
Ten: Leader's Guide 139
Ten: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 141
11 Exercises for the Chapter: Conflict Resolution and Mediation 143
Eleven: Individual Assignments 143
Eleven: Leader's Guide 151
Eleven: Sample Responses 156
12 Exercises for the Chapter: The Protective Use of Force 157
Twelve: Individual Assignments 157
Twelve: Leader's Guide 161
Twelve: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 163
13 Exercises for the Chapter: Liberating Ourselves and Counseling Others 165
Thirteen: Individual Assignments 165
Thirteen: Leader's Guide 168
Thirteen: Sample Responses to Leader's Guide 171
14 Exercises for the Chapter: Expressing Appreciation in NVC 173
Fourteen: Individual Assignments 173
Fourteen: Leaders' Guide 176
Fourteen: Sample Responses to Leaders' Guide 180
1 Suggestions for Further Practice of NVC 185
2 Feelings Lists 189
3 Universal Needs List 193
4 SSTOP! Being Sabotaged by Anger 195
5 Individual Feedback Form 197
6 Group Feedback Form 199
7 NVC Process Tracking Chart 201
8 Further Resources 203
The Four-Part Nonviolent Communication Process 211
Some Basic Feelings and Needs We All Have 212
About Nonviolent Communication 213
About PuddleDancer Press 214
About the Center for Nonviolent Communication 215
Trade Books From PuddleDancer Press 216
Trade Booklets From PuddleDancer Press 224
About the Author 226